Surbana Jurong says it 'could have better managed' the dismissal of 54 workers

Surbana Jurong group chief executive Wong Heang Fine told staff that the dismissed workers were a small group of "poor performers" who could not be allowed to weigh down the rest of the organisation.
Surbana Jurong group chief executive Wong Heang Fine told staff that the dismissed workers were a small group of "poor performers" who could not be allowed to weigh down the rest of the organisation.PHOTO: BT FILE

SINGAPORE - Temasek Holdings-owned infrastructure consultancy Surbana Jurong, which was criticised for not following due process when it terminated the service of 54 workers, acknowledged on Tuesday (Jan 24) that "the process could have been better managed".

In a joint statement with the Singapore Industrial and Services Employees' Union (SISEU) and Building Construction and Timber Industries Employees' Union (BATU), Surbana Jurong said it was working closely with the union bodies to provide an "equitable and mutually agreeable arrangement" for the affected workers and to help them find new employment.

Surbana Jurong's management team met with the unions on Monday, said the statement.

"Moving forward, Surbana Jurong and the unions also made a commitment to work on strengthening labour management relations," said the statement.

Unionists last week had slammed the way the 54 staff had been dismissed earlier this month, with some saying that due process was not followed for those workers who are union members.

In a Facebook post last Friday, Batu president Nasordin Mohd Hashim wrote: "Usually, before a union member is terminated, the details of the case would be officially given to the union to ensure our members will be given fair treatment and that due process is followed."

But he said that "this was not observed" in the Surbana Jurong case, adding that 18 of the 54 workers were union members.

His post was shared by National Trades Union Congress assistant secretary-general Zainal Sapari.

The posts came after the media reported a strongly-worded e-mail in which Surbana Jurong group chief executive Wong Heang Fine told staff that the dismissed workers were a small group of "poor performers" who could not be allowed to weigh down the rest of the organisation.

The 54 employees represented 0.41 per cent of Surbana Jurong's global workforce and 0.79 per cent of its Singapore staff.